It wasn’t revealed in the respectful way most retirements of longtime newspapermen go. There was no farewell story on the paper’s part, no farewell column from the writer. In the typical way of Gannett-owned The Daily Advertiser of late, he just disappeared. It’s been rumored for several weeks, but now it’s confirmed: Jim Bradshaw is no more. The respected newspaperman was forced into retirement as part of parent company Gannett’s massive layoffs across the country.
Bradshaw could not be reached for comment, and Advertiser Publisher Leslie Hurst did not return The Independent Weekly’s phone call. We’d still be in the dark about exactly what happened if not for a letter to the editor in the Dec. 29 edition of the The Daily Advertiser (and we have to assume even the Advertiser would not run a letter with inaccurate info on one of its own). One of Bradshaw’s many loyal followers, Annette L. Gossen of Rayne wrote the letter to state her case for bringing back Bradshaw’s popular “C’est Vrai” column.
“For several days, I noticed that Jim Bradshaw’s ‘C’est Vrai’ column was absent from his usual Page 3 spot in The Daily Advertiser. I looked through the whole paper searching for it, thinking it was moved to another page. Then, I thought maybe he was on vacation, was possibly ill, or that the column was discontinued. The latter was verified when I e-mailed Mr. Bradshaw for the column, and he responded that he was asked to retire because of budget cuts by Gannett. I think I speak for many when I say we are disappointed! I just can’t believe that in a daily newspaper there is no room for his column at least three or four times a week, if not daily.
“His column is a breath of fresh air, a nice brief escape from today’s negative news into the world of yesterday’s Acadiana. His column is a daily history lesson for the people of our area, keeping alive in people’s memories many of the little, nostalgic things that took place and that made a difference in shaping our lives as they are today.
“I am asking you to reinstate Bradshaw’s column. I and countless other readers would appreciate it.”
The Advertiser did not even offer the courtesy of attaching an editor’s note to Gossen’s letter about its longtime employee, who won journalism awards for spot news reporting, feature writing, and investigative reporting in his four decades in the news business. His columns garnered national and regional awards, including the prestigious Hal Boyle Award. He also is an award-winning local historian.
The Daily Advertiser has not been forthcoming to readers about the changes taking place over the past several months, while other publications in the chain have disclosed the changes. For more on what’s driving the cuts, visit a former Gannett editor’s blog at gannettblog.blogspot.com.
While the job losses in the newsrooms and across every department of Gannett’s local operations (it also owns The Daily World in Opelousas, where there is now a single reporter, William Johnson, in the newsroom, and Quik Quarter) have been painful, the McLean, Va.-based company (publisher of USA Today) is not alone in its troubles. Newspaper industry trade journal Editor & Publisher reported that 2008 has been a record for job cuts: “Three years ago, this was the top industry story of the year when some 2,000 newspaper jobs were lost in 2005. This year, Gannett cut that many in December alone, after slashing 1,000 others in August. Then there is McClatchy with two rounds of cuts, totaling 2,500 jobs; Tribune slashing more than 1,000; and various other small dailies and chains dropping staff here and there. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. saw more than 300 buyouts, while more than 100 jobs were lost each at The Washington Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Newsday and others.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.